Last year's Pe'ahi Challenge marked the first-ever paddle-in event at Jaws. Between the huge barrels, horrific wipeouts, and unwavering commitment from contestants, the event set a new bar for big-wave surfing. With the 2016/2017 edition of the event currently on green alert, it's fitting to look back at last year's incredible performances that earned the contest its mythical status.
Here are a five moments that defined the Pe'ahi Challenge…
When competitors woke up to massive surf and stiff offshore winds at Jaws, conditions for paddle surfing were borderline at best. But Shane Dorian diminished all doubts when he side-slipped his way into the biggest wave of the morning, and set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the day.
Contest or not, Albee Layer has one goal in mind when he paddles out at Jaws: Get barreled. Over the past few years, the Maui native has spent most of his sessions at Pe'ahi hunting tubes on the shallower, west bowl section. And it showed. During the Pe'ahi challenge, his ability to thread barrels on a substantially smaller board than the rest of the field gave a glimpse at the future of the Jaws paddle-in movement.
After a hectic day of surfing at Pe'ahi, Maui standout Billy Kemper managed to keep his stamina in the Final, and utilized local knowledge to snag a gem amidst a dying swell and heavy winds. Kemper found shelter in this clean barrel, and capped off an epic day of big-wave surfing with a well-deserved victory.
Jaws is one of the few big-wave spots that throws a legitimate barrel section, and California charger Greg Long had no reservations about packing the biggest tube of the day. After sticking a late drop, Greg was clearly too deep to make the wave, and while most sane surfers may have straightened out, Long pulled into what he later called "the biggest barrel of his life."
Although there were a handful of remarkable waves ridden during last year's Pe'ahi Challenge, horrific wipeouts were also abundant. Watching competitors flutter down huge faces into a violent cauldron of whitewater was a heart-stopping scene. Even more impressive though, was their collective ability to take a 50-footer on the head and then proceed to paddle back out for another go. Luckily, an amazing water patrol team was on hand to make sure everyone left the contest alive.
If last year's event was any indication, the world's best big-wave surfers -- which, this year, will include both men and women -- will be looking to push the envelope even further at Pe'ahi. And that day may be coming sooner than anticipated. As of now, the 2016 Pe'ahi Challenge could run within the next few days.